Published online Oct 26, 2011. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v3.i10.89
Revised: September 14, 2011
Accepted: September 21, 2011
Published online: October 26, 2011
Recent advances in reprograming somatic cells from normal and diseased tissues into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide exciting possibilities for generating renewed tissues for disease modeling and therapy. However, questions remain on whether iPSCs still retain certain markers (e.g. aging) of the original somatic cells that could limit their replicative potential and utility. A reliable biological marker for measuring cellular aging is telomere length, which is maintained by a specialized form of cellular polymerase known as telomerase. Telomerase is composed of the cellular reverse transcriptase protein, its integral RNA component, and other cellular proteins (e.g. dyskerin). Mutations in any of these components of telomerase can lead to a severe form of marrow deficiency known as dyskeratosis congenita (DC). This review summarizes recent findings on the effect of cellular reprograming via iPS of normal or DC patient-derived tissues on telomerase function and consequently on telomere length maintenance and cellular aging. The potentials and challenges of using iPSCs in a clinical setting will also be discussed.